Hollie and Annie are social workers in South Gloucestershire Council’s Response team, doing that first piece of work with families to assess how we can best support them. We recorded them in conversation talking about their roles, and how they’re making a real difference to the young people and families they work with.
Hollie: We’re the first people to meet families to assess their needs and that’s such an important responsibility. In those crucial initial visits and conversations, we set the tone for the relationship with a family. In a relatively short period of time, we need to build rapport, get a feel for what is going on and recommend how we can best support that family.
Annie: I know what you mean. Personally, I love the challenge and it brings out my creative side, finding different ways to engage with the young person.
Hollie: I’m not going to lie, I’ve had some difficult first conversations with families – that’s hard and I’ve needed my communication skills and thick skin! But what’s really great here is that when I have had a tough time, I know I can bring it back to the team to talk it through.
Annie: Yes, I’m relatively new to social work – just on my ASYE – and Covid has restricted how often we can meet face to face as a team, but even so, in six months I’ve built some brilliant relationships. South Glos has deliberately split us into very small teams, so that managers are completely on top of cases and can provide that supervision and support when we need it, and it has also brought the teams closer together. But beyond that, I’ve been so surprised at how much time our principal social worker and other senior managers have given to me. I feel like I can be completely open and honest with them and talk about anything – that’s so important when you’re doing a tough job. What’s really great here is that when I have had a tough time, I know I can bring it back to the team to talk it through” – Hollie, senior social worker
What’s really great here is that when I have had a tough time, I know I can bring it back to the team to talk it through” – Hollie, senior social worker
Hollie: Yes, it is a difficult role and it’s not going to be for everyone. It’s so fast-paced, and you’ve got to be up for that. As our role is to assess the case and pass it on, we see a lot more different cases, so there’s greater variety to our work and more of our time is spent face to face with families but, personally, I love that.
Annie: You’re right. We get so many learning experiences and opportunities to develop knowledge in different areas. I’ve found the training great – yes, the support structure around the ASYE is second to none, but beyond that you can focus in on areas of interest. I’ve completed training to develop my expertise in supporting people with autism. Also, I’ve learnt so much from working with colleagues from different departments and organisations.
Hollie: There’s also a good formal training offer and I’ve always been pushed to pursue development opportunities I’m interested in. As well as the oversight we get from our managers, there’s time blocked out for group supervision and I find the good practice workshops so helpful. It’s also good that managers value development and recognise additional skills and knowledge we bring to our roles. I’ve been promoted to senior and maybe, as my career develops, I might look at the Firstline management programme.
Annie: Ok, so killer question Hollie, as you’ve been doing this a little longer than me! Would you recommend a role in Response to others?
Hollie: As I’ve said, it’s not going to suit everyone. I’ve seen it from both sides, having worked for another authority in a combined Response/safeguarding type role and personally the pace, the amount of time I get to spend doing creative frontline work and the range of cases we get in Response suits me. What I can say is that I’ve had a brilliant experience working in South Glos – the people are fantastic and so supportive, it’s a really trusting and flexible working environment and I’m looking forward to progressing my career here.
New response roles for dynamic, experienced social workers
South Gloucestershire Council is currently recruiting for experienced social workers to join Hollie and Annie in Response. If you’re looking for a role with real variety where you can make a difference to families, find out more here.
We are planning to hold interviews, via MS Teams, on 20 May and 8 June 2021.